Staying Stylish in Suburbia

National Novel Writing Month

Monday, November 4, 2013

November is National Novel Writing Month, which would perhaps be better named International Novel Writing Month with an estimated 500,000 writers from all over the world expected to participate. The idea started 15 years ago with the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You can sign up for free on the NaNoWriMo website which also provides online support enabling you to track your progress and participate in a community of writers with forums and discussions to inspire and sooth your writing woes.  

NaNo Executive Director Grant Faulkner said, “NaNoWriMo is an unbeatable way to write the first draft of a novel because it’s such a powerful antidote to that horrible foe of creativity: self-doubt. NaNoWriMo is a rollicking conversation about all aspects of writing, and an invitation to dare to do what seems impossible. As many NaNoWriMo writers have discovered, the best way to learn to write a novel is by simply plunging in to write a novel.”

I love the idea myself. If only I had known about it before having my two time-consuming beasties. I started re-working my novel while I was in the hospital (two months of bed rest) nearly three years ago awaiting the birth of my first daughter. Looking back now I wish I had allowed myself to be less nit picky and more prolific. Everyone has there own writing style though and mine involves editing as I go, re-reading and re-working while I write rather than getting it all out before going back to edit.  Perhaps that is why the concept of writing as much as possible without room for pause appeals to me so much. If nothing else it would be a freeing change of pace for me. Of course the real issue at this point in my life is less about modifying my writing style and more about finding the time to attempt such a lofty feat as 1,667 words a day. Between tackling the terrible twos and adjusting to a newborn there is very little left in my day. The thought of locking myself away in a room to write for a month sounds as luxurious and unattainable as all expenses paid Parisian vacation. Still, just knowing that the challenge is out there has revived my writer's spirit. I will be doing as much work on it as possible this month and I invite you to join me. If you have ever considered writing a novel yourself, now is a great time to try. Take the plunge and see what happens. At best you'll come away with a best selling novel like Sara Gruen did with, "Water for Elephants." And at worst you'll flush out your ideas and be able to go back and fine tune them in the months to come. 

A snippet from my novel

I'll leave you with this rough draft from the latest chapter I've been chugging away at. Happy writing everyone!!!

(From the diary of Louisa Alexander, Briarville Kentucky 1969)

April 30th 

It happened last night, a terrible thing. I was already asleep and in the midst of having a nightmare. It was my wedding day. The same dream I've had several times since the engagementIt always starts the same with my mother brushing my hair. Strange, since she hasn’t done so since I was six years old. I don’t know how but even in the dream I can smell the alcohol on her breath.“This is it,” She is saying. “This is your big day.” Then the dream switches and I am standing in the church. Dalton is there in front of me. He is sweating from the heat and all puffed up with pride. All I can do is concentrate on his mouth, the crooked bottom teeth and thin lips that move as he says his vows. It’s not until the room goes silent again that I realize it’s my turn to speak. Everyone is staring, waiting for me to repeat after the preacher as he begins. “I Louisa take you Dalton to be my lawfully wedded husband.” I inhale, ready to speak. I open my mouth to form the words but nothing comes. I try again and still nothing. Not a single sound escapes. My voice is trapped. I can feel it fluttering like a bird between my ribcage and I begin to panic. Looking up no one else seems to notice what has happened. I try to shout, silent screams between gulps of air, anything to push the words out and restore my speech. My vocal chords seem to have gone slack, cut like the strings on a violin and curled into themselves, rendered completely useless. I am mute.

A knock at my bedroom door is what finally woke me from the nightmare. “Miss Alexander?” I heard a man whisper. My first thought was Burl but then he spoke again and I realized the voice was unfamiliar. “Miss Alexander. It’s about Harpa. I was told to come wake you up. She’s gone into labor. You should come now.” I let out a groan, half surprised by the sound of my own voice. I wasn’t mute and I wasn’t married yet either. Everything was fine. 
“Yes. Thank you,” I said clearing my throat and rolling out of bed. “ I’ll be right down.”

photograph source
Painting source


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